Researchers in Malaysia revealed that Peninsular Malaysia hosts at least three rare mussel species, one of which (Hyriopsis bialata) is not found anywhere else on the planet. Another species (Ensidens ingallsianus) may have already gone extinct.
In a ground-breaking study path-breaking for the Southeast Asian region, a research group led by The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) revealed that Peninsular Malaysia hosts at least three rare mussel species, one of which (Hyriopsis bialata) is not found anywhere else on the planet. Another species (Ensidens ingallsianus) may have already gone extinct.
Dr Ziertiz examining the types of mussels she collected.
Copyright : UNMC
Most native species are severely threatened by ongoing nutrient pollution and acidification of freshwater habitats caused by atmospheric pollution, deforestation, oil-palm plantations and a lack of functioning wastewater treatment particularly in rural areas. As mussels are efficient filter-feeders and provide habitat for smaller organisms such as insect larvae, their loss can lead to algal blooms and further loss of aquatic biodiversity.
An international group of scientists; Dr John-James Wilson and Pei-Yin Ng from University of Malaya; Samuel Walton from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu; Dr Khairul Adha A. Rahim from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak; Dr Elsa Froufe and Manuel Lopes-Lima, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, Portugal; Professor Ronaldo Sousa from University of Minho, Portugal; Dr Arthur E. Bogan from North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences (USA); Dr Suzanne McGowan from The University of Nottingham UK and Dr Alexandra Zieritz from The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, who is leading this research, surveyed 155 localities across all states of Peninsular Malaysia for mussels and recorded their environmental requirements.
The team spent a total of 30 days in the field, scouring the sandy and muddy beds of Malaysia’s rivers and lakes for mussels simply using their hands. Environmental conditions at each location, such as water pH and oxygen concentration, were also recorded. The findings of this study, worth USD 9,262 (RM 38269.19) and funded by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund , are published in Science of the Total Environment, a leading international scientific journal.
The group found nine Malaysian and one introduced Chinese species in the peninsula. Whilst the introduced species is rapidly spreading and posing an additional threat to native mussels, many of the native species are declining. Authors believe that another species previously recorded from the region may have already become extinct in the country.
Sungai Pahang and Sungai Perak, two of the longest rivers in Peninsular Malaysia are of particular importance to the conservation of very rare mussel species. One of these, holding the scientific name Hyriopsis bialata but simply called “layar” (sail) by the locals in the surrounding villages, cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. To protect these globally unique populations of mussels, the authors recommend establishing riparian buffers and improving waste water treatment for rivers running through agricultural and residential land.
“I hope that the study will serve as an example for future projects of this kind in Southeast Asia and ultimately lead to the legal protection of these important organisms. Mussels and other invertebrates are often overlooked in this respect, because they are less charismatic than beautiful large mammals such as tigers. However, these small organisms represent an equally important part of our ecosystems, especially in freshwater habitats.” said Dr Zieritz.
“Our ultimate goal is to get concrete Action Plans for the most endangered species in Malaysia in place, which could involve habitat restoration and breeding programs. Whilst this might come too late for the presumably extinct Ensidens ingallsianus, taking action will be vital to preserve Malaysia’s unique and rare species such as Hyriopsis bialata for future generations,” Dr Zieritz said.
“Freshwater mussels and many other freshwater animal groups show very high rates of endemism in Southeast Asia. This means that many of these species have a very restricted distribution, such as Hyriopsis bialata, which can be found exclusively in the lower Pahang river. That means if we lose these mussels in the lower Pahang, we have lost the entire species for good on the whole planet,” Dr Zieritz explained.
In collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Dr Zieritz and her team are currently revising the conservation status of the Malaysian species and developing a National Red-list of the freshwater mussels of Malaysia, including Sarawak and Sabah, which will be publicly available at the National Red List website. Readers interested in becoming involved in the project are encouraged to get in touch with Dr. Zieritz through her project webpage.
More information is available from Dr Alexandra Zieritz at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Josephine Dionisappu, PR & Communications Manager at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus on +603 8924 8746, email@example.com.
Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future.
Josephine Dionisappu | Research SEA
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy